Sometimes it happens that people come up with a crazy idea, an opportunity, a chance of adventure you just can’t refuse. You try to find some reasons why you shouldn’t, make up some lousy excuses, but in the end you know: you just can’t resist. That’s how I ended up stuck in Stockholm.
The adventure proposed to me was a 5-day roadtrip / campingtrip in Sweden, with one day on my own in Stockholm. J. – the masterbrain behind this plan – needed to work in Stockholm and had the brilliant idea to go on a roadtrip before starting to work in the Swedish capital. On his quest to find company, he ran into me, and since I was free – as in ‘no job’ and no plans that couldn’t be rescheduled – I was, after some persuasion, willing to come along. Everybody who knows me also knows how I can’t resist an adventure.
Even though I’m a city person and crazy about architecture – buildings! houses! bridges! – I fell in love with the Swedish countryside. A roadtrip through the less inhabited parts of Sweden is the ideal way to discover the beauty this country has to offer: grab a tent and sleeping bag – check weather conditions, it can be cold at night, as I experienced – and off you go. We left with little or no plans, just to arrive in Stockholm the next tuesday after our depart. Only weaponed with a GPS system – thank you volvo – and some camping gear, we drove from Belgium to Sweden in one day. After crossing that distance, the real sightseeing could start. Oh boy, I can still smell the pine trees and salty sea. Roads flanked by forests and yellow rapeseed fields, flashes of blue lakes between trees when passing by. Red cottages with wooden white painted windows looking over farmland, dotted with mossy rocks. Deers and wild boars dashing off when you pass by. Natural parks and meadows filled with wild flowers. The sun reflecting her last beams of the day in a lake flanked by reed.
One particular camping spot sticks to mind: near Hallstad Ängars naturreservat stood a little shelter, with space and enough wood to make a little campfire. After discovering the surroundings first, we stood on top of a hill of rocks watching the sunset – getting a bit nervous here, I’m always overthinking too much, afraid not to be out of the woods before dark. Thank god my company was patient enough with me -, before climbing down again and start to cook. Falling asleep afterwards with the warmth of the campfire shimmering through the canvas. Definitely a memory that will last in my mind.
– Only took pictures with my iphone this time – sometimes I’m a bit indulged in my environment and I don’t really think about taking pictures –
After reaching Stockholm, I had only one day to explore the city. Or, at least, that’s what I thought. I spend my morning in the traffic jam around Stockholm – the only traffic jam I encountered in Sweden -, looking for my hostel to drop my backpack – after being dropped of by J., who unfortunately needed to go to work – and rushing out of it again to see as much as I could of Stockholm. I must confess, Stockholm isn’t my favorite European city, but I did love the islands, how green the city is, how you discover new horizons when you’re walking along the quay.
First stop was the Vasamuseum, which is built around the 17th century ship, obviously called ‘Vasa’. Because it sunk while navigating out of the harbor, 95% of the ship is still preserved today – something about a ship eating worm that can’t live in the brackish water of the coast in front of Stockholm –, this after lying in the water for about 333 years. Enough about the facts, I’m only going to say that it’s pretty damn impressive. Definitely a must see when in Stockholm.
Since the Vasamuseet is located on a peninsula full of museums, castles, parks and even an amusement park, I decided to stroll around, enjoying the sun and parks. In my humble opinion, the best way to discover a city is to just walk around, so that’s how I spent the rest of my day in the Swedish capital. In the end, I just stumbled back to my hostel, set my alarm clock for the next morning and fell asleep, expecting to fly back to Belgium the next day. Which didn’t happen.
That’s how I got stuck in Stockholm. To make a long story short: no flights coming from/going to Belgium that day, so my flight got cancelled. Yep, cancelled. I guess there has to be a first time for everything. I ended up in a fancy hotel in Nyköping that night, costs covered by Ryanair – muhahaha with diner and a spa and a swimming pool and breakfast – and a flight booked two days later. (Un)lucky me, I had another day to spend in Stockholm! Because of being too tired the day before, I totally missed the old part of the city. Off I went again, hopped on the bus to Stockholm and was ready to roam undiscovered streets – undiscovered by me of course – in historical Stockholm. Found some cheap lithograph maps and botanical sketches too – those Swedes are damn proud of their greenery, botanical prints everywhere -, and I still had some time left to explore the – free! – architecture museum and surrounding islands. Needless to say I was very happy to spend another day in Stockholm, although the city didn’t stole my heart. On the other hand, I did fall in love with Sweden.
Having my flight cancelled wasn’t such a bad experience after all.